William Y. Smith, 90, a four-star Air Force general who flew combat missions in Korea, wrote a book about the Cuban missile crisis and retired as deputy commander of U.S. forces in Europe, died of congestive heart failure last Tuesday at his home in Falls Church, Va.
In retirement, Gen. Smith was a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and for five years was president of Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research center.
What may have been the defining moment of his career occurred in February 1952 over North Korea when his F-84 fighter jet was hit by antiaircraft fire, smashing his right foot and ankle and setting his airplane on fire.
He landed on North Korean mudflats and was rescued by a U.S. helicopter. He spent the next nine months in military hospitals, and his right foot would be amputated just above the ankle. He was fitted with a prosthetic foot and ankle.